It was probably only a matter of time before President Trump attacked Maryland Democrat Ben Jealous’s progressive agenda.
During a rally in Montana Thursday night, Trump slammed Jealous’s plan to provide free community college tuition for all Maryland residents, including undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, commonly referred to as “dreamers.”
“In Maryland, the Democrat candidate for governor wants to give illegal aliens free college tuition, courtesy of the American taxpayer,” Trump said as the audience booed. “Come on in, free college.”
Jealous, who is in an uphill battle against Republican incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan, is trying to leverage the president’s attack, calling on Hogan to condemn the president’s remarks.
“As Donald Trump continues to use hateful rhetoric that seeks to divide us, we need courageous leadership at the state level willing to stand up for Maryland values,” Jealous said in a statement. “I’m calling on Larry Hogan to reject this divisive rhetoric, agree that all Maryland’s children deserve a quality education and publicly reject Donald Trump’s efforts to campaign for him.”
A spokesman for Hogan’s campaign did not take on the president, but said Hogan believes “dreamers” ought to be able to qualify for tuition aid at community colleges. That aid would cover most of the costs of an associate degree.
Asked if Hogan supports free community college for dreamers, Scott Sloofman wrote in an email that the governor’s plan to expand scholarships to community colleges “benefits all Maryland residents in need, including dreamers.”
Sloofman presented Hogan as a centrist who tries to work with both Republicans and Democrats.
“For four years, the governor has done things differently than they do in Washington, D.C., working in a bipartisan fashion that has kept us out of the partisan bickering and dysfunction,” Sloofman wrote in an email.
When Jealous announced his plan last month, the Hogan campaign would not comment on whether the governor would support such a plan.
Instead, Sloofman said at the time Jealous wanted to hand out “free stuff faster than Jos. A. Banks at a Labor Day suit sale” and Hogan was “taking responsible and affordable steps to expand higher education opportunities through community college scholarships for those who need it most.”
Jealous, who in 2012 helped lead an initiative to allow dreamers to receive in-state tuition at the state’s colleges and universities, announced last month he wants the state to cover the cost of community college tuition. According to estimates, it will cost $3 million annually to cover an estimated 700 undocumented immigrants.